From Eagle to Angel part 2
Even Walid Raad is salonfähig now!
Uit de keuken van de curator

From Eagle to Angel part 2


The entrance fee for the MOMA is 25 dollar! It makes you wonder who can afford a visit to a museum anymore. And this kind of exclusivity is becoming the rule more and more in museums. Working in a museum myself of course I know that the artworks themselves are getting more and more expensive too and museums consequently are obliged to pay more insurance money. But now with a shock I see where this leads. Yesterday a glance at the many enormous shiny white gallery spaces in Chelsea already convinced me that art will not become cheaper in the near future. There are people here who easily pay a million for a large new painting and as long as they are willing to do that the art market will provide.

Art museums are part of this crazy economy and it is only with great difficulty that they can avoid the consequences of it. And to be honest: a lot of people working in museums like this kind of exclusivity. As if working with very valuable objects would increase their own value! In the meantime no one seems to be aware that this omnipresent model of financial growth will eventually neck us (I mean museums, but come to think of it: us as human beings too). It cannot go on much longer.

Walking in the exclusive premises of one of the biggest museums of modern art in the world I saw an exhibition of the Lebanese artist Walid Raad. Seeing his work on show here one cannot help noticing that even this once so inventive and critical artist is salonfähig now. It is not so much his works – although some of them are a bit licked – as well as the surroundings that give me this impression. Here the museum seems to take the sting out of the work.

Sketches on abstract and concrete by Joaquín Torres-García
Easy to understand and with lots of humor

There is a huge exhibition of sculptures by Picasso and it only convinced me once again that this artist made far too much of anything: paintings, drawings, prints, cups and saucers, you name it. And sculptures too, as can be seen in these large rooms filled with objects and people. You could say this is a MOMA blockbuster. But the rest of this museum is also totally equipped to host large quantities of visitors. There are smaller coffee corners and restaurants with someone at the entrance that will get you seated. And there are red signs at the entrance of some rooms stating that the quantity of persons in it may not exceed a certain number: that would be ‘unlawful’. A few years ago I was here for a meeting and I saw how the museum opened its doors at 10.30 a.m. It was like a military operation, the preparations for an invasion.

I don’t know if this scale of art exhibiting is necessary. It’s not my personal favourite, but many people seem to enjoy it. Next to that I also see groups of deadly tired tourists hobbling behind the guide to the next ‘must see’ taking some pictures here and there that will serve as proof for the home front.

Anyhow, there was a nice exhibition here for me too: the work of Joaquín Torres-García (1874 – 1949). I never heard of this versatile artist who was originally from Uruguay and worked in Barcelona and New York.

Educational material for children by Joaquín Torres-García

Very special for me was a notebook with sketches on abstract and concrete and his educational material for children. The exhibition offers an overview of the work of Torres-García and there are two key chapters in it: the period from 1923 to 1933, when the artist participated in various European early modern avant-garde movements, and 1935 to 1943, when, having returned to Uruguay, he made abstract works. Of course there was much more and good MOMA coffee kept me going during this long museum visit. All the way to the fascinating Proun painting by Lissitzky.